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review 2017-05-03 19:23
In the mood for some mystery
Trio for Blunt Instruments: A Nero Wolfe Threesome - Rex Stout

Trio for Blunt Instruments by Rex Stout draws us back into the world of Nero Wolfe and his loyal assistant, Archie Goodwin. The last time I visited with these distinguished detectives was back in 2015 (it's been too long!) so I was very happy to get a 3-in-1 with this book. This volume contains the following mysteries: Kill Now -- Pay Later, Murder Is Corny, and Blood Will Tell. As this is a collection, the stories aren't overly lengthy (Murder Is Corny was previously unpublished and was the last novella written by Stout.) but as with all of Stout's writings they pack a powerful punch no matter the length. I continue to maintain that Archie Goodwin is one of my favorite literary characters. His veracity, loyalty, bravery, and overwhelming likability mark him as a singular character that it's nearly impossible not to like. There is something so real about him and his narrative voice as the reporter of Wolfe's cases lends reality and humor. Of course, Wolfe is a singular character in his own right as a true 'armchair detective' in every way.

 

Kill Now -- Pay Later covers the story of Wolfe's shoe shiner who witnesses something (it's not too much of a shock for me to tell you it's related to a murder I don't think) and comes to Wolfe immediately afterward. Once Wolfe is on the case, it turns out that it's not as straightforward as the police think especially since a subsequent crime is marked as a suicide and the case is considered closed. It's up to Wolfe and Archie to continue the case to its bitter end no matter how winding their path becomes.

 

Murder Is Corny is an extremely corny title for one of Stout's mysteries as the victim works at a farm that produces corn. <pause for grimace> Archie is pegged as the main suspect after one of his prior flames indicates that he was at the scene of the crime. Wolfe at first demurs as it's 'Archie's private affair' but when he realizes that he stands a good chance of losing someone he relies on he steps in. This one has a lot of moving parts and quite a few memorable characters but what marks it as unique is that Goodwin isn't interested in the main female character. ;-)

 

And that brings us to Blood Will Tell which opens up with Archie receiving a rather strange package in the mail and snowballs into a dramatic story about spurned love, boorishness, and snappy dressers. I think this one was my favorite of the three because it provided a lot of sidestories to sink your teeth into and it kept me guessing up until the last.

 

Whatever your taste in mysteries, you can't go wrong with this 3-in-1 because it has a little something for everybody. If you haven't ever tried a Nero Wolfe mystery then this is an excellent place to start. 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2015-04-25 00:00
Trio for Blunt Instruments
Trio for Blunt Instruments - Rex Stout The anthology consists of three novellas:

Kill Now - Pay Later.
Bootblack
Nero Wolfe's favorite bootblack witnessed a crime and he hinted at it to the detective while working on his shoes, but he did not give any details. He was later killed, but the police decided it was a suicide, so it is up to Wolfe to prove it was a murder and find the culprit. I need to remind you at the time the book was written bootblacks were a big deal: just take a look at the picture above for the proof. I will give extra bonus points to people who know where it came from.

I found an interesting social commentary in this novella related to snob attitude of upper-class people with respect to lower classes. This by the way is from an old guy who was considered to be conservative. I mean early sixties type conservative; this means practically ultra-left today.

Murder is Corny.
Corn
The guy who delivered corn to Wolfe and Wolfe's restaurant where the latter is a part owner was brutally murdered right by the delivery door of said restaurant. A woman was mixed up in the murder. She tried to avoid being asked some embarrassing questions, so she unintentionally framed up Archie Goodwin practically landing him in jail for the murder. Wolfe hates being deprived from his assistant, so he takes a personal interest in the investigation.

People familiar with the series know that Nero Wolfe is a gourmand among other things who really know about good high-class cooking. This time he mentioned a way to prepare corn properly; I cannot wait to try it.

There is another social commentary here: this time it is about self-righteousness people. Hint: such people are extremely scary most of the time.

Blood Will Tell.
Blood will Tell
Archie Goodwin received a package with a stained tie with stain strongly resembling blood. He received a phone call later asking him to destroy the tie, but his curiosity was picked and he decided to check on the sender. The sender was fine, but he just stumbled upon a dead body - right in time for Archie to see it. The main suspect came to Wolfe asking him to help prove his innocence.

The picture has absolutely nothing in common with the story except for the title, but this video game comes up first and foremost in Google image search. I decided to use it here to create dramatic tension.

This novella is probably the best mystery of the three which looks fairly complicated, but is actually quite simple once you think about it a little. It passes Archie Goodwin test: he managed to solve it by himself before Wolfe explained it to him. The former is not stupid by any definition, but when it comes to deducting skills he is nowhere close to latter.

My usual comment about any book of this series applies here as well: fast-moving entertaining read which Archie Goodwin's wisecracking makes really shine.
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